By Brendon Bosworth
Pulitzer prize-winning author John McPhee has another accolade to add to his collection after the Center of the American West presented him with the Wallace Stegner Award Thursday. With 28 books under his belt and 48 years contributing to The New Yorker, this award counts McPhee among “those who have faithfully and evocatively depicted the spirit of the American West.”
McPhee’s seminal 1971 book, Encounters With the Archdruid, is the foundational text for the Center of the American West, said Patty Limerick, the Center’s director.
The book profiles David Brower, former executive director of the Sierra Club, and his interactions with Charles Park – a mineral engineer, Charles Fraser – a resort developer, and Floyd Dominy – Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation at the time.
An audience of well over 300 people filled the Old Main Chapel past its seating capacity and welcomed McPhee, who turned 80 this year, to the stage with loud applause. With the lower and upper sections full, some of the crowd had to sit on the small stage behind McPhee and Limerick. A few people stood on the balcony above the stage.